Ugandan Legislators Snub Health Awareness Week

By Katongole Kiwanuka – Legislators from Uganda’s on Friday ended ‘the Parliament Health Week’ with a call to go for circumcision. The week long event however received poor reception from the legislators who are busy seeking for votes in next year’s polls.

The event was intended to promote self discipline at the workplace; increase the demand for Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT);Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission services, and care and support for orphans and vulnerable children. 369 persons attended the Voluntary Counseling and Testing while 56 donated blood.

The activities which were kick started by a walk through the city centre with the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga as chief walker, had little participation from many legislators.

Betty Nambooze, an opposition Member of Parliament from Mukono North said that they couldn’t get time because the majority, National Resistance Movement (NRM) members run the house by monkey tricks.

“The opposition walked out of parliament (last week) because of the frustrations during the corruption inquiries, so we could not attend that event too,” said Nambooze. Hellen Kawesa, the Parliament Publicist however hailed the event as successful. “This was a non political issue and all we wanted was to make the public aware of certain health issues, and we achieved it,” said Kawesa.

Dr Ivy Kasirye of the Mildmay Centre, a HIV support clinic in Kampala encouraged uncircumcised males to go for circumcision, saying it reduces the risk of HIV/AIDS. “The foreskin creates a conducive environment in which HIV and other diseases can survive for longer increasing chances of infection,” Dr. Kasirye warned.

She however said that circumcision does not reduce infection of HIV from men to women and advocated for the continued use of other proven measures like abstinence, faithfulness and condom use to prevent the spread of HIV.

Dr. Stephen Watiti, of Mildmay, advised staff on how spouses can handle stigma using his personal testimony as an example.